I was recently one of the many CVOA members who were able to take advantage of an incredible offer from fellow member Kip Files, Captain of the Victory Chimes: to enjoy a last-minute, generously-discounted four-day sail around the coast of Maine aboard his historic four-masted schooner. Our thanks to Kip for extending this opportunity to our members.
My sister Susan, one of our newest members, and I decided to celebrate our birthdays by going on the sail together. We boarded the evening of my birthday on July 21st (when we turned the same age until her birthday on Aug 1…making us Irish twin!) Being a new member, and not really knowing much about the organization, she was soon to learn a lot!
Of the 40 passengers on board, there were 18 CVOA members, and Susan was immediately impressed by their warm, welcoming spirit. That first evening, Susan met John McCatherin, a founder of CVOA “which was organized in his living room in 1999 by a group of area outdoors people concerned about access that had been denied to lands traditionally available for recreational use. The fledgling organization was an active participant in resolving that issue.”
As we sailed around the craggy coast and fog-outlined islands during the next few days, she enjoyed listening to stories of trips taken over the years and memories made while hiking, camping, canoeing and skiing. She was impressed by the diversity of the group and recognized the unifying sense of our love of recreational and social activities in the outdoors.
She witnessed first-hand our spirit of teamwork and willingness to help each morning and evening when we jumped up to help raise and lower the huge sails. She certainly noticed our great appetites and appreciation of good food as we sat down in the “saloon” to devour the delicious feasts set before us three times a day!
She learned that our mission has been simple and straight-forward from the beginning: To preserve and protect our natural resources and promote the recreational opportunities in our area. As our website says, the Carrabassett Valley Outdoor Association (CVOA) is a vibrant and growing club with diverse interests springing from a single core: our love of the outdoors. Our members … now more than 900 strong … are out there skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, fishing and hunting in every corner of Maine. We’ve been branded the “active outdoor club” and we prove it every year.
Of course, there were other passengers on board enjoying a summer sail on the Maine coast as well. During the day there were pockets of conversation and laughter, as well as cribbage games going on all around the main deck. The talks often came around to how did this large, fun-loving group of people know each other – and thus, more sharing of CVOA and our mission.
One fellow sailor and energetic gentleman from Rhode Island was on this adventure with his delightful wife and fun-loving adult daughter and her husband. It was obvious in the many conversations they had with the CVOAers on board that they all share our passion for having fun in the outdoors. On the last morning of our trip, he approached me with his email address and requested that I send him membership information on how he could join our group. As did Jane, a fun, single lady from Florida who quickly became a new friend (and cribbage player).
It is such a pleasure and honor to be the new president of this outstanding organization that people are so eager to learn about and so anxious to join. Many thanks to Kip for this invitation and generosity aboard the Victory Chimes.
Bonnie Farrar, President